It's Tough Talking…

Every difficult conversation involves grappling with these three components:

  • Facts
  • Feelings
  • Identity & context

Conversing successfully requires learning to manage all three simultaneously. When you consider each of these factors before having a difficult conversation, it’s a first step to better conversations.

Here are five more steps to consider when engaging in difficult conversations:

  1. Decipher the underlying structure: what happened, what the feelings are, how identity is involved
  2. Interpret the significance of what is said and what is not
  3. Identify the erroneous but deeply ingrained assumptions that keep you stuck
  4. Manage strong emotions, yours and theirs
  5. Spot ways your self-image affects the conversation, and ways the conversation affects your self image

In what ways do you feel like throwing a punch at the person, instead of talking it through? Or, maybe you’d just like to avoid him or her altogether and wait for the problem to go away? Both these options are not available if you want to survive, because:

A. Nobody wins when a fight is over
B. Nothing is resolved when there is no conversation

Let’s face it, those who “win” are those who engage, those who have the tough conversations.

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